The three network morning shows on Friday almost totally skipped any coverage of President Bush's farewell address to the country on Thursday. Despite having a combined eight hours of air time, NBC's "Today," CBS's "Early Show" and ABC's "Good Morning America" devoted only 55 seconds total to reporting on Bush's speech. Instead, important topics such as "Obama thongs" and cheddar biscuits were highlighted.
Over a period of two hours, "The Early Show" ignored the speech entirely. "Good Morning America," which has a similar running time, allowed a mere 17 seconds. The "Today" show, which now encompasses four hours of broadcast time, provided the most, with 38 seconds of information about the address. None of the three programs featured any clips of Bush's farewell. (In contrast, on March 19, 2008, the day after then-presidential candidate Barack Obama's speech on race, these same shows allowed nine and a half minutes of sound bites of the Democrat.)
During a report on Thursday’s Today show, NBC News correspondent Norah O’Donnell replayed Barbara Walters’ characterization of Sarah Palin’s recent interview as “disturbing” from Tuesday’s The View. O’Donnell highlighted how the Alaska governor’s comments about how the media treated her versus how it treated Caroline Kennedy “drew a reaction” from the ABC host, and that it was “one more sign that as Palin tries to quiet her critics, she is sparking another loud debate.”
Co-host Matt Lauer introduced O’Donnell’s report: “During the campaign, handlers tried to keep a tight lid on Sarah Palin, but as Barack Obama’s inauguration approaches, she’s speaking out more and more. But how much is too much?” The correspondent then began by highlighting “Sarah Palin’s latest target -- her online critics,” focusing on the governor’s counterattacks against those spreading “smears” about her family. The NBC on-screen graphic hyped how Palin had become “unleashed.”
The news media are giddy with excitement as Barack Obama’s Inauguration Day approaches — CNN’s Jim Acosta on Tuesday’s American Morning touted how "Obama has some big shoes to fill, roughly the size of the ones up on the Lincoln Memorial....Barack Obama’s inaugural address may be more than the speech of his lifetime. Historians and speechwriters say it could be one for the ages."
But it would be a mistake to think reporters are always so worshipful of new presidents. While most presidents do start with a media honeymoon, a review of the past 20 years finds reporters are more celebratory when Democrats are taking over the White House, while coverage of GOP inaugurals has included a fair number of anti-conservative stinkbombs:
On Wednesday’s Today show, NBC News principals Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, and Tom Brokaw all gushed over Hillary Clinton’s testimony in front of a Senate panel for her confirmation as Secretary of State. During an interview of Senator John Kerry, Lauer asked, “Did you see any area, Senator, where she didn’t show, I guess, a complete mastery of the issues?” In the following segment, Vieira and Brokaw lauded how “smart and well-prepared” the former First Lady appeared to be. “She’s the kind of woman I would like to sit next to in class,” Brokaw indicated. “She’s so smart,” Vieira added.
The NBC morning program’s coverage of Clinton’s hearing in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee began with correspondent Andrea Mitchell briefly mentioning during a report that the “only controversy [was] over possible conflicts of interest with foreign donors to her husband’s charities.” This was followed by a clip where Republican Senator Richard Lugar raised the issue and the outgoing New York Senator responded to his point. Mitchell concluded her report by stating that “no one questioned Bill Clinton’s good works -- only the possibility of undo foreign influence on his wife. Clinton says that she and her husband are already doing more than the ethics rules or the law require, and support for her confirmation is so overwhelming that her senate colleagues are holding a farewell party for her today.”
Starting this week, MRC’s Notable Quotables newsletter is evolving from a printed hard-copy product to an all-electronic Web and e-mail publication, complete with audio and video clips of the worst quotes from each issue.
Every two weeks, Notable Quotables offers a concise summary of the liberal media’s most outrageous and/or humorous eruptions, and the very best quotes are harvested once a year so the journalists can receive “awards” at our annual DisHonors dinner in Washington, D.C.
To give you a flavor of what’s in each issue, here are the most obnoxious quotes from this week’s (January 12) edition. If you've been a subscriber to the print edition, or if you’d like to sign up for our new HTML or plain-text e-mail, please go to www.MRC.org/subscriptions.
One bright spot last week in CBS’s coverage of the war between Israel and the Gaza-based terrorist group Hamas came on Wednesday’s CBS Evening News as correspondent Richard Roth filed a story exploring Israeli life under a "siege mentality." Roth: " Spend a while in earshot of an air raid siren or cramped in a shelter, and it's hard not to have some sympathy. Or, if you want to understand what pushed Israelis past their limit, they'll tell you, just take a look at the numbers. Since the first one almost eight years ago, the army says more than 11,000 rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza at southern Israel."
But CBS was only starting to catch up with NBC, which had previously devoted two full stories to the situation in Sderot, Israel. After the Sunday, January 5, NBC Nightly News showed the first report, which was previously documented by Newsbusters, on Monday, January 5, correspondent Martin Fletcher filed a second piece for the show, as he spent time with a firefighter in Sderot who had been one of the Israeli settlers forced by the Israeli government to leave Gaza in 2005 in an attempt to make peace with the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Fletcher noted the failure of Israel’s withdrawal: "Israel gave the land back to the Palestinians, hoping for peace. It didn't happen. The conflict continued. And now rockets are fired from his old home."
Add NBC to the list of news organizations that have shown a clip of two doctors, one of whom is the controversial pro-9/11 Norwegian doctor, Mads Gilbert, supposedly trying to revive a deceased Palestinian boy at Shifa Hospital in Gaza – a scene which some critics charge appears staged. Last week, on the Sunday, January 4, NBC Nightly News, correspondent Richard Engel filed a report in which he recounted the story of a 12-year-old boy, Mahmoud Basrowi, the brother of "Ashraf, a Gaza-based television producer contracted by NBC News," as Ashraf claimed his brother was killed while playing on his family’s roof "when the house was hit by an Israeli shell or rocket."
But in the Gaza Strip now, streets are mostly empty, fuel is running out and there's no electricity. Hospital officials say at least 430 Palestinians have been killed, 30 just today, including 12-year-old Mahmoud Basrowi. His family says the boy was playing on his rooftop with a cousin when the house was hit by an Israeli shell or rocket. Two doctors, one a volunteer from Norway, tried to save Mahmoud. Wrapped in a white funeral shroud, Mahmoud was taken by his brother Ashraf, a Gaza-based television producer contracted by NBC News.
Among the anchors and correspondents on the broadcast networks, NBC’s David Gregory has been unique in conveying to viewers the nature of Hamas as, on two occasions during the opening weekend of the airstrikes by Israel in Gaza, Gregory referred to Hamas as a "terrorist organization that is bent on the destruction of Israel." He also recently gave attention to the Hamas doctrine that the purpose of a ceasefire is to regroup and resume fighting later with greater strength.
On last Sunday’s Meet the Press, he read form a blog posting by Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, in which Goldberg quoted Nizar Rayyan, the ranking Hamas member recently killed when the Israeli military bombed his home, as Rayyan once proclaimed his views about a ceasefire with Israel. Goldberg: "There was no flexibility with Rayyan. This is what he said when I asked him if he could envision a 50-year hudna (or cease-fire) with Israel: ‘The only reason to have a hudna is to prepare yourself for the final battle. We don't need 50 years to prepare ourselves for the final battle with Israel. There is no chance,’ he said, ‘that true Islam would ever allow a Jewish state to survive in the Muslim Middle East. Israel is an impossibility. It is an offense against God.’ ‘What are our crimes?’ I asked Rayyan. ‘You are murderers of the prophets and you have closed your ears to the Messenger of Allah,’ he said. ‘Jews tried to kill the Prophet, peace be unto him. All throughout history, you have stood in opposition to the word of God.’"
Just one day after Ann Coulter chided NBC News' Matt Lauer and Brian Williams, on the "Today" show, for softball questions to Barack Obama, CNBC's John Harwood, on Thursday's "Today," outdid them both in Obama puffery. In a one-on-one interview with the President-elect, Harwood asked such hard-hitting questions as what kind of "family advice," he got from his lunch with the former presidents, if he is being allowed to use his Blackberry, and whether recent topless photos of him in Hawaii were, "an embarrassment."
"Today" co-host Meredith Vieira teased the interview, claiming Harwood "sat down with Obama to talk about the economic challenges," ahead but instead the segment focused on less weightier matters, as seen in the following exchange:
JOHN HARWOOD: As of this moment, you still have your Blackberry?
BARACK OBAMA: As of this moment, I still do. This is a concern, I should add, not just of Secret Service, but also lawyers. You know, this town's full of lawyers. I don't know if you've noticed.
OBAMA: And they have a lot of opinions. So, so I'm still in a scuffle around that. How do you stay in touch with the flow of everyday life? When we were on vacation in Hawaii, I was greatly discouraged from going body surfing. Going to get shaved ice was a major ordeal. And, you know-
HARWOOD, OVER STILL PICTURE OF OBAMA IN BATHING SUIT: Were, were you told not to walk outside without your shirt on?
OBAMA: Well, I learned of that after the first day. But, but I think that-
HARWOOD: Was that, was that an embarrassment to you, or do you care? You got a lot of commentary about that.
Ann Coulter made a second appearance during the 10 am Eastern hour of Wednesday’s Today show, and hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb continued the discussion about the apparent “venom” in her books. Kotb asked if Coulter’s style was “kind of like shock jock, shake the cage, freak everyone out, wake everybody up,” and later stated that she felt the tone of the conservative’s writing was “dripping with venom.” The two hosts focused Coulter’s take on single motherhood in her new book, as Matt Lauer had done in her earlier appearance on the NBC program.
Kotb began the interview with her “shock jock, shake the cage” question. Coulter answered that she tries to “write in an entertaining, intriguing way, so that people will read what I have to say.” After the three briefly discussed the writing process for the author, Kotb then brought up the title of Coulter’s chapter on the problem of single motherhood: “Victim of a Crime? Thank a Single Mother.” Coulter explained her central point in the chapter, that single mothers are “victimizing their children by raising their children without fathers,” and how these children are “70% of the prison population, 60% to 70% of future unwed mothers -- of murderers, of rapists, of juvenile delinquents, of teenage runaways.”
NBC's Meredith Vieira stated during the Jan. 7 "Today" broadcast that she found it "obnoxious" that people took pictures of a pant-less skier caught dangling from a chairlift and posted them on the Internet.
Yet apparently it's not "obnoxious" for the top-rated morning news show to devote 36 seconds of airtime to showing those pictures, as it did this morning.
Matt Lauer laughingly called Vieira out on her hypercritical stance, "I like the way you say ‘I think it's obnoxious' and we show it on the show." Vieira defended NBC's decision to show the pictures by saying, "we have to point out how obnoxious it is over and over."
Taking pictures of a man desperately in need of help rather than coming to his aid surely qualifies as obnoxious behavior. But giggling about it on national television under the watery excuse of "pointing out how obnoxious it is" is just as abhorrent.
It's nice to know that NBC personalities are taking the time to point out to us common-folk what truly obnoxious behavior looks like.
After reports that Ann Coulter had been banned from NBC News, her return to the "Today" show set this Wednesday morning was, as expected, a fiery one with co-host Matt Lauer. The conservative author put Lauer on the defensive on her being bumped for the likes of Rachel Maddow and Perez Hilton, his colleague Brian Williams’ softball questions to Barack Obama, and Lauer’s charges that Coulter’s takes on single motherhood and Obama’s middle name were "outrageous," and "venomous."
First up, Coulter stuck it to Lauer on his, rather lame excuse for her being bumped from yesterday’s "Today" show:
GMTA. Last night I posted an item on David Shuster's hypocrisy in branding Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston "unwed parents," pointing out that the MSM would never normally use such an un-PC term, preferring to speak reverentially of "single mothers." This morning, Ann Coulter appeared on Today to discuss her new book, Guilty, and by coincidence, an important focus of Ann's remarks was . . . the liberal media's "exaltation of single-motherhood."
I'll leave it to my fellow NewsBusters to recount the entire story of Ann's Today appearance, including the way NBC apparently scurried to have her on this morning's show after Drudge ran a story asserting that the network had imposed a lifetime ban on the conservative firebrand. For present purposes, let's focus here on the similar themes struck here and by Ann on the subject of single-motherhood.
On Tuesday’s NBC Nightly News, correspondent Ron Mott filed a report featuring incoming Republican Congressman Joseph Cao, the first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress, and the man who defeated corrupt former Democratic Congressman William Jefferson in heavily Democratic New Orleans. Brian Williams introduced Mott’s piece: "There was new ground broken on Capitol Hill today, where the first Vietnamese-American Congressman in the history of this republic was sworn in. Joseph Cao of Louisiana is also the first Republican in more than a century to win the seat representing New Orleans."
Mott recounted Cao’s escape from Vietnam and his victory against Jefferson, who was involved in a bribery scandal: "The 41-year-old Republican Congressman, Joseph Cao, is now a standout on Capitol Hill, traveling a very long way to get there. As a boy, he was among tens of thousands airlifted out of Vietnam after the fall of Saigon, without his parents, who feared he was killed at the airport. ... He later studied for the priesthood, eventually became a lawyer, and then last year, took on a political institution in New Orleans, Democrat William Jefferson, embroiled in a bribery scandal."
Appearing in the timeslot of the fourth hour of Tuesday's "Today" show that Ann Coulter was originally booked to appear on, celebrity blogger/author Perez Hilton addressed the Coulter bumping controversy directly, as he challenged the conservative author: "Ann Coulter, if you’re watching, bite me!"
"Today" co-hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb then acknowledged that Coulter was, in fact, scheduled to promote her book at that time but may be invited back on Wednesday's show. Gifford expressed disappointment that Coulter and Hilton weren't on together, saying it would have been "good television," which prompted Hilton to respond: "She's not very friendly with the gays...but that's okay I'm friendly with everyone." However Hilton then went on to brag, "I'll talk trash about her, to her face...I'm not a fan of anyone trying to deny me my rights."
The following exchange aired during the fourth hour of the January 6, "Today" show:
Conservative author Ann Coulter believes that media during last year's presidential campaign behaved as if they wanted to have sex with Barack Obama.
Such was revealed during Monday's "Hannity & Colmes" as were her views about NBC's sudden cancellation of her appearance on Tuesday's "Today Show."
In the end, she believes "the whole thing was a charade and a setup" so that she wouldn't be able to go on any other morning shows (video embedded below the fold courtesy MsUnderestimated with a partial transcript):
Presumably a last minute replacement for the possibly NBC banned Ann Coulter, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow appeared on Tuesday's "Today" show to drop invective about the Bush administration's "torture" policies. Instead of the rousing bit of Barack Obama bashing and criticism of the fawning coverage of him by the liberal media that would've surely been delivered by Coulter, "Today" viewers were treated to the following slam of Bush policies via a Maddow defense of Obama's choice of Leon Panetta as CIA Director:
RACHEL MADDOW: Well, I think that he made a bold choice in Leon Panetta, and we have seen from Barack Obama a lot of leadership by building consensus, by making people not disagree with him about important and hot-button issues. But on Panetta that was an, "elections have consequences" moment. If you were in the Bush administration and which, with, with warrantless wiretapping and enhanced interrogation, torture. With rendition, with these other controversial policies in the intelligence community, that's not going to be a career asset. And if you were a Democratic senator in an intelligence oversight role, while all these things were happening, your objections may not be the most important thing for this new president looking to make a clean break.
Maddow appeared during the 7am half-hour where, according to the Drudge Report, Coulter was originally scheduled to have been slotted before being bumped/banned. The following is the full transcript of the Maddow segment as it was aired on the January 6, "Today" show:
Like ABC and CNN on Monday morning, NBC’s Today also lauded the Obama daughters’ new Sidwell Friends school as green and compassionate, a school that "emphasizes a lot of the themes of the Obama administration." Like the other networks, NBC made no mention of the Obamas choosing a pricey private school and not considering a public school, or their opposition to school choice for children poorer than theirs. Today co-host Matt Lauer interviewed Maureen Orth of Vanity Fair magazine (Tim Russert’s widow) to get all the compassionate details:
LAUER: Yeah but, but I just want to mention, a lot of people thinking, well it's great, they're sisters, they'll have each other to lean on. But they're going to separate campuses, aren't they?
ORTH: That's right, yes. The lower school where Sasha is going is in Bethesda and that's just right outside of Washington D.C. Where Malia is going is a, the first platinum green building in Washington. And there are so many things about the school, it's a Quaker school. There are so many things about the school that, that emphasizes consensus. Lighting your light from within.You bring a vegetable on Wednesdays to cut up for the homeless shelter. There's a lot of stuff in this school that emphasizes a lot of the themes of the Obama administration.
On Friday’s NBC Nightly News, correspondent Andrea Mitchell filed a report that reminded viewers of an embarrassing political episode from Hillary Clinton’s past: the controversial hug and kiss she shared with Yasser Arafat’s wife, Suha, during a trip to the West Bank. The NBC correspondent related that Clinton had taken a position favoring a Palestinian state early on, but, after her controversial "embrace" with Mrs. Arafat, she became known for being "an unrelenting supporter of Israel," and argued that Mrs. Clinton’s popularity in the Arab world, and that of former President Clinton, would be an asset as Secretary of State.
Mitchell: "As first lady, Hillary Clinton was an early advocate of a Palestinian state until a misplaced embrace of Yasser Arafat's wife, Suha, backfired politically back home. From then on, Clinton was an unrelenting supporter of Israel but, experts say, is still well known and liked by Arab leaders."
The Drudge Report is blaring that conservative author, columnist, and poison-pen pundit Ann Coulter has been "banned for life" from appearing on NBC News shows, according to an anonymous "top" insider. "We are just not going to have her on any more." Coulter has been a glaring exception to the usually observed if unwritten rule that top-selling conservative authors don't get booked on the networks.
On Sunday’s NBC Nightly News, correspondent Martin Fletcher gave rare attention to the plight of Israelis who live in the towns of Sderot and Ashkelon, which have for years been frequent targets of rockets fired from Gaza by Hamas because of their relative proximity to the Gaza Strip. Devoting an entire report to the issue in which he informed viewers of how many years the rocket attacks have spanned over, Fletcher began: "This is why Israel invaded Gaza. Thirteen more rockets hit the town of Sderot today. Since April 2001, 5,000 rockets have hit in and around the town." After showing a clip of a boy named Angel Yamine expressing his fear of the Hamas rockets, Fletcher continued: "The threat to Israeli citizens from Hamas rockets is still very real. This is David and Panina Yamine in Ashkelon. They can't stop watching the war. They live in fear, afraid of rocket attacks."
Then came a soundbite of Angel's mother Panina: "Where you can live like this? Eight years people live like that. It's not life."
In its opening half-hour, Good Morning America found time to tell us—twice—that Pres.-elect Obama choked up with emotion as he viewed his packed-up old home. But somehow ABC never got around to mentioning that a possible pay-to-play scheme was behind Bill Richardson's bye-bye as Commerce Secretary nominee.
After the show-opening roll in which the president elect was shown heading to DC, Robin Roberts literally bounced in her co-anchor's chair: "so excited, so excited, so excited . . . It's a new day, new year, new everything going on." Added Diane Sawyer helpfully: "And a president-elect." "Yes," concurred Robin, as if it wasn't clear that's what her excitement was really all about.
Then came the first mention of the Pres.-elect getting misty. Roberts: "He was home alone in Chicago. And one of Malia's friends came over and had a little scrapbook that he wanted delivered to his ten-year old, and he was flipping through it, and I would imagine, got a little choked up." When senior political correspondent Jake Tapper came on, he provided crucial additional details about the warm and fuzzy moment, complete with a clip of the president-elect recounting the story to reporters. But Tapper gave short shrift to the Richardson matter, and, appearing later, George Stephanopoulos was equally tight-lipped.
Barack Obama cheerleader Chris Matthews almost got another thrill up his leg Sunday when Time's Joe Klein predicted that 2009 would be a good year for the incoming president.
I guess "winning" the dubious honor of Quote of the Year in the Media Research Center's21st Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting hasn't encouraged Matthews to be more objective.
Not a chance, for in the first "Chris Matthews Show" of the New Year, the Obama-loving host displayed a lack of journalistic integrity that has made him a consistent focus of media analysts across the fruited plain.
As Sunday's program wound to a close, Matthews posed the following to his panel (file photo):
Matthews was such a perfect poster boy of the DNC media, he merited his own category this year: the "MSNBC = Maudlin Sycophantic Nutty Blathering Chris Award." The winning quote came from Matthews gushing over Obama's convention speech back on August 28. Perhaps referring to the grief he took for admitting to the "thrill" running up his leg earlier in the year, Matthews defiantly declared: "I’ve been criticized for saying he inspires me, and to hell with my critics!"
On Tuesday morning’s Today show, NBC substitute anchor Lester Holt and correspondent Savannah Guthrie all but expressed regret over President-Elect Barack Obama having to make an “adjustment” -- not being able to “just pick up and go anytime he wants” due to “not just Secret Service, but a traveling corps of journalists now follows his every move, even in Hawaii.” Guthrie reported on the “signs Obama is growing a bit frustrated with all the attention.” The on-screen graphic accompanying her report inflated this apparent frustration on the part of future chief executive: “Man in a Bubble: Obama Chafes at Constant Scrutiny.”
Holt introduced Guthrie’s report with a lament over Obama’s seeming predicament: “He may not be president yet, but Barack Obama is getting an early taste of what life as leader of the free world is really like -- a lack of freedom, and an entourage documenting his every move.” Guthrie then began her report along a similar line: “Obama came here to Hawaii to get away from it all -- get one last vacation in before becoming president. But even here, he can’t just pick up and go anytime he wants, and that’s been quite an adjustment for the president-elect.”
Nearly two years after reporters such as NBC's Tom Brokaw derided President Bush's troop surge as "a folly" and suggested the war itself was a "lost cause," American troop deaths are at their lowest level since the Iraq war began in March 2003, and the death toll among Iraqi civilians is also down sharply in 2008.
So right on cue, Monday's New York Times reports that ABC, CBS and NBC have all pulled their full time reporters from Iraq. According to correspondent Brian Stelter, the lack of violence means the networks are less interested in the Iraq story: "Representatives for the networks emphasized that they would continue to cover the war and said the staff adjustments reflected the evolution of the conflict in Iraq from a story primarily about violence to one about reconstruction and politics."
Chinese divers won a record seven gold medals during the 2008 Olympics. But even they didn't leap as headlong into the Beijing tank as did NBC. That's how you might describe the collective verdict of the Fox News Watch panel this evening on NBC's regime-friendly coverage. The subject arose as part of the show's Year in Review, and began with a clip of Matt Lauer unctuously questioning a ChiCom official:
MATT LAUER: There's a recent poll that said some very high percentage of the people in China are happy with their lot in life. Something around 80%. You compare that with the polls in the United States that say only about 25% of Americans are. What's the root of their happiness here?
View video here. The panel lit into the network's coverage, with even the liberal-leaning Jane Hall and Kirsten Powers joining the NBC-scorching consensus.
On Monday’s World News, ABC showed a letter written to Barack Obama that made a snide crack charging that President Bush and Vice President Cheney had left Obama a "hell of a mess to clean up," and sarcastically expressing hope that Bush and Cheney would not steal furniture from the White House, as correspondent Kate Snow filed a report about a former school teacher, B.J. Hill, who has spent a year walking across the country collecting letters from Americans for the next President. Of the five letters Hill was shown reading during the report, all came across as either pro-Obama or at least phrased from a liberal point-of-view, one even expressing a desire that the next President would "save science, including stem cell research," presumably referring to federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. But while no letters expressed any concerns about what Obama would do from a conservative point of view, one of the letters did take a shot at President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Hill, reading: "You have one hell of a mess to clean up after Bush and Cheney. I hope they leave some of the furniture."
When during its first half-hour this Christmas morning "Today" moved to a conversation between Matt Lauer and Pastor Rick Warren, I braced myself. Don't tell me, I thought, they're going to get into the invitation Pres.-elect Obama extended him to give the invocation at the Inauguration, and the reaction of some gay-rights groups. Well, surprise! They didn't: not in word or implication. Warren appeared strictly in his role as pastor, and the conversation focused exclusively on the meaning of the day.
The video clip is of the portion of the conversation in which Warren describes the origin and practice of a Warren family tradition of holding a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas Day.